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Former professor gets Dem nod to seek Orie seat

Tony LaRussa
| Thursday, June 7, 2012, 9:10 p.m.

Democratic Party leaders from Allegheny and Butler counties have picked a former university professor who owns a consulting business to run in a special election this summer for the state Senate seat formerly held by Jane Orie.

Sharon Brown, 59, of McCandless, was the only candidate seeking her party's endorsement for the Aug. 7 special election, said Grant Gittlen, executive director of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

The committees voted for Brown during a meeting on Thursday evening at the Cranberry Public Library.

Brown has a doctorate in public health and epidemiology from the University of California, Irvine, and previously worked as a nursing education professor. Since 2006, she has operated a small business that provides consulting services to health and educational programs.

"I am honored to have the endorsement of the Allegheny & Butler County Democratic committees," Brown said in a news release. "I look forward to working with them to ensure the residents of the 40th District have a senator who works hard to ensure our children have a good education, our economy is vibrant, and our most vulnerable citizens are represented."

The Senate district covers much of northern Allegheny and southern Butler counties. Voter registration in the district heavily favors the GOP.

Brown was defeated by state Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, in 2010.

Republicans plan to pick a candidate to challenge Brown at a meeting scheduled for June 16.

Orie, 50, was sentenced Monday to serve 2 12 to 10 years in prison. An Allegheny County jury convicted her of using state workers to perform political work.

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